At the end of August 2018, outline plan 101-0292870 regarding urban nature in Jerusalem was deposited for public review. The goal of the plan was to protect open spaces on nature sites throughout the city. The plan designated 151 polygon sites that included, in addition to specific nature sites within existing neighborhoods of the city, all of the open spaces that had not yet been developed. The plan stipulated that urban development of nature sites would only become possible if each new plan is accompanied by a survey of urban nature, and also sought to regulate the conditions for granting building permits for the construction of the sites themselves.
At a glance, the outline plan for urban nature appears to be equitable–the nature sites are distributed throughout the city, in Israeli and Palestinian neighborhoods alike. However, the areas for which outline plans have already been approved, including those that would feature urban nature sites, are now exceeding the requirements of the plan. This means that the new restrictions on development that will inevitably come as a result of the required urban nature surveys will ultimately only impact places in which planning is incomplete, which is currently only in the spaces in Palestinian neighborhoods. While the plan does not violate approved construction rights, in practice, it constitutes another layer within a years-long system of discrimination against the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.
At the end of August 2018, Bimkom filed an objection to this plan. The objection raised a number of claims and demands, some of which are general, and some of which deal specifically with nature sites. One of the main demands listed in the objection was “to change the boundaries of the sites surrounding the Palestinian neighborhoods so as not to include the the expanded areas proposed for these neighborhoods in the Jerusalem 2000 Outline Plan,” in order to prevent further structural discrimination. The demand was not accepted.
Another demand of ours was to remove the possibility of issuing building permits for nature sites under the plan. In general, waiving the need for a detailed plan for nature sites seems puzzling, and in particular raised a concern that this possibility would result in the construction of a national park on the hills Mount Scopus, where there is no approved plan. In this regard, objections were also filed by residents of Issawiya and A-Tur, as the area in which the new national park would be built is also the only area available to them for improvement and development in the neighborhood. The demand regarding permits was partially met; the conditions for granting building permits were not eliminated, but reduced to a satisfactory degree. In addition, one of the sites that we requested be canceled was indeed canceled–a small site, but an important reminder of the value of revisiting and re-examining each area included in the plan.